Home Stretch

DSC04086When David was sworn into the U.S. Army, Princess was in the 7th grade. This fall she’s a college freshman. From 2012, it was hard to project what all would transpire during his six years of service. Sam – married. Robert – married. Cedric – married. Natalie – married. Montrel – engaged. My own mother – with Christ.

He’s had three deployments thus far and is soon to embark on his last one. So you’ll note the last pre-deployment farewell from his mother in the photo above. The years have been so busy, it seems time was suspended. There is now falling upon us time for reflection, time for thinking, time for seeking our Lord’s face. Time. I am thankful for it.

We hope to have David home with us for good come April of 2018.

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July 4th Photo Shoot

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   Had a very pleasant July 4th with Austin, Cedric, Montrel, and Princess. Working the family lines is not always easy. We’ve found that love draws, but love also requires focused effort. To get a smiling Princess, delight must be conveyed. Of course, she enjoys a little “spotlight” from time to time and her persona is genuinely pleasant. Marcia created a number of great tastes for us and of course, she remains the true “nurturer of souls” in our home. I do believe it has been Marcia’s nurturing ways through the years which has brought our family over many bumps. The road is more rough some times, but here we are, nearly 11 years later, and our Lord continues to encourage us.

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“A Living Hope”

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   The first Sunday after Easter – 2014 – was a beautiful day. I was able to preach on 1 Peter 1:1-12. Peter writes about our being “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” After my Bella Vita Vesper service, I stopped at Publix on the way home (the one near the round-a-bout), picking up snacks and some flowers for Marcia. She didn’t expect them as I made something of a show with bringing in the groceries first. I can’t say that I was over dramatic. Indeed, I must say that it was all just right. She was moved but not over-much. She cut off the stems and placed the roses in a vase. We then took one of them, along with the baby’s breath, on a walk to Hope’s grave. Her companionship along the way was tender but not sad. Hope’s grave is in a small section of the cemetery referred to as the Angel’s Garden. It is a designated space for children dying in infancy. The cemetery provided the space to us for free. I think we did have to pay for the stone.

   We didn’t stay long. There weren’t many tears. We arranged the rose and I prayed. We spoke of what we thought she would be like when we meet her. Marcia desires that she would be old enough to know Christ. She also contemplated her relationship with Austin. She mentioned that she’s been thinking more about death and asked me if I was doing the same. I told her I think about it as approaching but that I don’t think about it much. She indicated that she has some anxiety about whether or not she would face it with faith and courage. Having observed her faith through the years, I have no doubt that she’ll face it with faith. Our Lord has shown me His love for her on numerous occasions. Certainly the story of our little Hope’s life was one such occasion. The primary reason I’m writing about this is to note that we look forward now and not back. There’s more on the anticipation side of the ledger than the sadness and loss side. There is also something about the last few Easters which have sealed my perspective as being united with Christ in His resurrection. My own heart and mind hold on to a vision of being with Christ outside the empty tomb, on a beautiful Lord’s Day morning with all the “new creation” before us. That is where I seek to live. If I do think about looking back, I trust it will be only to the cross…

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New Horizons

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   Well, its later than I wanted it to be. I purchased a new laptop last week. It came equipped with Windows 8.1 as the operating system. It took me quite a chunk of time to even figure out how to move from screen to screen. At  my age, the learning curve has slowed. Its not that I am actually aware of my mind deteriorating. Its that I look at things, try things, they work, and then I promptly forget how I did it. So I look at the same things over and over. They are slower to present a quick pathway. Its like chasing a train down the tracks looking for a safe place to jump on, finding a place, jumping on and doing it all over again. The back of the train is just as challenging the next time I try to get aboard… But Hey! Here I am blogging within two weeks and I haven’t even mastered this on my old laptop… So yesterday was Resurrection Day. I sensed the same freedom and joy. I tell myself every year I am going to make gains in living out of the same power which raised Jesus from the dead. I know it comes by sitting with Jesus and reviewing the truths of God’s Word. I know it also involves prayer unceasing – not as a “to do” but as way of life. New horizons indeed…Today I went to the Rookery after dropping Princess off at school. This squirrel met me on the sidewalk. Yes – I did take some pictures of birds as well. I like the whole setting. There is much to catch up on, so this friendly squirrel is a safe place to start. All is good…

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Family Christmas Card Photo – 2013

For Family Christmas Card

The way we looked in October of 2013.

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No Complaints

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I indicated at supper that I would record a significant occurrence – Austin had nothing but praise for Marcia’s dinner tonight. He is the notorious critic of flavors just a tad too salty or a tad too sweet. Tonight’s barbecued pork steaks (grilled outside near the pool) were quite the hit. Montrel had two or three himself, after the reserve was left unguarded by an early retiring mother. 

   The day and season carries other significant happenings as well. David Dolby arrived home on Saturday for a 16 day leave. Austin Copes, also home now from Marine Corp basic and special training for his particular job with the Marines, came over to the house tonight to hang out with the guys, along with his younger brother, Tyler. Marcia had been sick last week and got off to a bit of an unsteady day back at VCS. She missed Wednesday – Friday, staying home in bed. She was glad to be at the school on Saturday doing some catch-up work when David arrived home from Tampa with Natalie. She had a couple of hours to hear stories from his time in Afghanistan. He only spent a couple of months there and most of his time was in training operations. All the battalion made it home safely just a few weeks ago. He is with the 2nd Bat. out in Ft. Lewis/McChord, WA.

   Finally, just a note on my heart issues. I did finally have a heart cath in early September, in which a blockage was discovered and a stent was placed. I believe I’m regaining some long eroded and lost energy. With David safe, Natalie progressing, and Sam doing well with Kellan, I have “no complaints.”

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A Growing Family

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Austin came out to the kitchen a few moments ago and wrote me a note next to my computer: “July 18, 2008 – ’13, Adoption 5 years.” That was the last time our family was extended. You’ll see the newbies in the wedding party shot above: Cedric, Montrel, and Princess Jackson. It was a real piggy-bank smasher when Sam insisted that all his brothers be in his wedding. Of course, I can only speak in the highest categories of praise in conjunction with Kellan asking Natalie and Princess to join her group of special friends. Thus, Austin, Natalie, (David was in Afghanistan, but made his presence known through a fun phone call prior to the ceremony.), Robert, Cedric, Montrel and Princess were all present and accounted for with Robert being the best man.

So now Kellan is part of the family too. At least she got the last name. But of course, her situation was different from the that of the Jackson Three. We like to believe that the Jacksons have enjoyed their sojourn with us to date. We have had many wonderful times through all the days. Each day has its own challenges, opportunities and memories. Ced is working through some remaining FLVS courses and assisting Marcia in her first ever summer math boot camp at VCS. Princess is reading a series of books on fallen angels and doing the math boot camp. Montrel is heading off to a FiveStar Basketball Camp this weekend over in Orlando at the University of Central Florida. Life is full.

Natalie is on the home stretch of Paramedic School. She’s been attending it since last August or September. I can’t really remember. She continues in Tampa. (More on that soon.) Sam and Kellan have been married a little over a month. I hear they went out for dinner to celebrate their one month anniversary. Sam posted on FaceBook: “This has been the happiest month of my life.”

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Sam and Kellan

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   Of all the pictures of the wedding itself, this one carries the most “texture” for me. It was taken by Tara Peddicord. Her photography business can be found on the web. She’s been a good friend of Kellan’s through her association with Camp Wabanna, outside Annapolis. Sam met Kellan at that camp as he served as a camp counselor during his sophomore and junior years at Covenant College. There’s apparently a Wabanna-Covenant connection. Well – at least now there is for our family. A couple summers with Kellan was all it took.

   They were married on Saturday, June 15, 2013 at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Annapolis. Kellan’s family has been in that city most of Kellan’s life. Kellan grew up in the church, though her family has departed it in recent years. Kellan attended the University of Maryland and received her degree in early childhood education. She teaches 2nd grade at the school associated with St. Martin’s.

   Back to the picture. I’ve officiated a number of weddings. I’ve enjoyed most every couple I’ve been privileged to unite in marriage. I just don’t think any of them looked at me like this. Of course, they are both Christian young people, so they didn’t feel odd or out of place in a ceremony laden with Biblical references and back-drop. Indeed, they were quite at home with it. Sam’s face seems to provide the certainty that he is connecting with the words with both anticipation and acceptance. Kellan’s face says to me that she too is good with each word.

   It was a wedding long awaited by Austin and the rest of us. I’ll make some other comments and posts reflective of the occasion. But – and this is the nature of blogging – it does represent the first wedding of our children. It was a great start. Thank You, Heavenly Father.

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Movin’ On

Movin' On

David stopped by to see us before his first deployment. He would miss Sam’s wedding but return from Afghanistan early to attend Ranger School.

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Supper By the Pool

We had a great Lord’s Day yesterday! It was a challenging weekend with some good conversations along the way. Robert suprised us by being in attendance at worship. He hung out with D.J. and the “Copes boys” after worship. We had hoped they would all do supper with us but the hang out time went long and D.J. treated them all to supper. Our hot dogs and hamburgers did not go to waste, however. We ate them ourselves and had some for today. I preached on Breakfast by the Sea from John 21. Thought of the charcoal fire, Peter, Jesus, fish and bread as I was heating up my own grill later on in the day. Decided to grab my camera and capture some coals as a reminder of the day.Image

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